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Full text of "History And Human Relation"

THE    CHRISTIAN    AND    HISTORICAL    STUDY

the historians acting in the belief that they had found a
better means for studying the ways of Providence.
And this affected the situation in a definite manner, for
it meant that they felt themselves to be operating only
on the outer fringe of something far bigger than their
instruments and observations could reach. They felt a
greater distance between the kind of diinking which
analyses a blade of grass more and more minutely or
observes the stars over wider and wider expanses of
Space, and the kind of thinking which estimates the
nature of the universe or judges the meaning of life or
decides the question of the existence of God. It was
discovered th^t by restricting oneself to the realm of
secondary causes, one could pursue certain kinds of
more mundane enquiry to better purpose. This is at
any rate one of the secrets of the transition to the
scientific method of modern times.           , *

It appears to be the case that the scientific method
gained great impetus from the fact that students of the
physical universe recognised the search for final causes
to be too difficult as well as too distracting for the
particular purposes of physical enquiry. Here, as in
history, the restriction of scientific attention to the
analysis of tangible things or their inter-relations freed
the mind for a more specialised form of research and
released the thing we now call science from its entangle-
ment with all the pretensions of a " natural philosophy ".
The case for the scientific method was strengthened by
the discovery that students of differing philosophies and
religions might discuss Nature to better effect if they
shelved ultimate questions and debated more tangible

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